What is Endometrial Cancer?
Endometrial cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the uterus. This cancer begins in the layer of cells that make up the lining (endometrium) of the uterus. The uterus is a hollow, pear-shaped organ in the pelvis where the fetus develops.
Endometrial cancer can usually be detected at an early stage, as it results in abnormal vaginal bleeding. When Endometrial cancer is detected early, it may be cured by surgical removal of the uterus.
Another type of cancer that may develop in the uterus is uterine sarcoma, but the number of cases is less compared to Endometrial cancer.
Types of Endometrial cancer
Endometrial cancer are divided into several types based on the cells’ appearance seen from a microscope, including:
- Uterine carcinosarcoma.
- Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
- Transitional carcinoma.
- Serous carcinoma
Causes of Endometrial Cancer
There are many factors that may affect the balance between estrogen and progesterone in your body.
Most endometrial cancer cells have estrogen and progesterone receptors on their surfaces. This interaction between hormones and receptors causes increased growth of the endometrium. This increased growth can become more abnormal until it eventually develops into cancer.
The exact cause of most cases of Endometrial cancer is unknown, but there are certain risk factors that triggering the growth of Endometrial cancer, such as:
- Age factor.
- Type 2 Diabetes.
- Diet and exercise.
- Hormonal imbalance.
- Have had endometrial hyperplasia.
- Family history of having Endometrial cancer.
- Have had breast or ovarian cancer.
- Use of an intrauterine device (IUD).
- Radiation therapy to the pelvic area to treat other types of cancer.
It is unknown what exactly causes endometrial cancer in some women–even if the woman has one or more risk factors that trigger cancer growth.
When to See a Doctor for Endometrial Cancer
Your obstetrician may perform certain tests to diagnose Endometrial cancer. Possible tests may include:
- Pelvic exam. Your doctor will examine the outer portion of your genitals (vulva). Then he or she will insert two fingers of one hand into the vagina and simultaneously press on your abdomen with the other hand to feel your uterus and ovaries. A speculum is also inserted into the vagina so that your doctor can identify any abnormalities in your vagina and cervix.
- Ultrasound. This is done to help your doctor view for any abnormalities in the thickness and texture of the endometrium. A transducer that uses sound waves is inserted into the vagina to create a video image of your uterus.
- Hysteroscopy. A hysteroscope is a thin, flexible tube that is inserted into your uterus through the vagina. A lens on the hysteroscope allows your doctor to examine the inside of the uterus and endometrium.
- Biopsy. A biopsy procedure may be required to obtain a cell sample from inside the uterus which will then be analyzed in the laboratory.
- Dilation and curettage (D&C). The tissue is scraped from the lining of your uterus and examined under a microscope to look for cancer cells. This procedure is usually performed if the biopsy results are unclear
From your cancer diagnosis, your doctor will perform tests to determine the stage of your cancer. These tests may include chest x-rays, CT scans, positron emission tomography (PET), and blood tests.
Symptoms of Endometrial Cancer
You should watch out for signs and symptoms of Endometrial cancer as early as possible. The symptoms may include:
- Pelvic pain.
- Vaginal bleeding after menopause.
- Bleeding between menstrual periods.
Make an appointment with your obstetrician immediately if you experience persistent signs and symptoms of Endometrial cancer.
Treatment for Endometrial Cancer
Uterus removal is usually a common treatment option for Endometrial cancer. There are also other treatment options, such as radiation therapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and more.
Surgical removal of the uterus (hysterectomy), as well as removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries (salpingo-oophorectomy) are the common treatment options for Endometrial cancer. However, a hysterectomy prevents you from becoming pregnant in the future. Meanwhile, salpingo-oophorectomy leads to menopause period
2. Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy uses powerful beams of energy, such as X-rays and protons to kill cancer cells.
In some cases, your doctor may recommend radiation therapy to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence after surgery. Radiation therapy may also be recommended before surgery to shrink the tumor and make removal easier.
Chemotherapy treatment uses chemicals to kill cancer cells. You may need to take one, two or more of combined chemotherapy medications. This medicine can be in the form of a pill or liquid inserted through intravenous line (IV).
Chemotherapy may also be recommended after surgery if there is an increased risk of the Chemotherapy is usually chosen to treat advanced or recurrent Endometrial cancer that has spread to the outer portion of the uterus.
4. Hormone Therapy
Hormone therapy involves taking medications to lower hormone levels in your body. This treatment method helps treat advanced stage cancer that has spread to the outer portion of the uterus.
Immunotherapy is a type of treatment that helps your immune system to fight cancer cells. This method of treatment is often chosen when Endometrial cancer has entered an advanced stage and other treatments have not produced satisfying results.
Treatment Cost for Endometrial Cancer
Treatment cost for Endometrial cancer may be higher if your doctor recommends surgery, such as removal of the uterus. The estimated treatment cost also depends on a number of tests to diagnose the cancer, treatment, and applicable hospital’s policies.
For more details regarding the treatment cost for Endometrial cancer at home and abroad, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Endometrial Cancer
It is best if you take precautions for Endometrial cancer before it is too late, such as:
- Talk to your doctor about the risks of hormone therapy after menopause. If you plan to take hormone replacement therapy to control menopause symptoms, it is best to talk to your doctor about its benefits and side effects. Unless you have had a hysterectomy, estrogen therapy improves the symptoms of menopause, but it increases your risk of endometrial cancer. Combined estrogen and progesterone therapy can also help reduce the risk of Endometrial cancer.
- Take birth control pills. Using oral contraceptives for, at least, one year, can help reduce the risk of Endometrial cancer. You will reduce the risk after several years after you stop using oral contraceptives. However, please note that oral contraceptives have side effects that you should discuss with your doctor first.
- Maintain ideal body weight. Obesity is one of the causes of Endometrial cancer. Try to reach and maintain your ideal body weight. If you must lose weight, you can increase your physical activity and reduce your daily calorie intake.
Home Remedies for Endometrial Cancer
After completing treatment, you should schedule regular visits to your doctor. Tell your doctor if you have new symptoms or problems that may arise possibly from a cancer or a new disease.
You can prevent the risk of cancer recurring or other new diseases by adopting a healthy lifestyle, such as:
- Avoid drinking alcohol
- Maintain ideal body weight.
- Engage in sports activities and limit the time spent sitting and lying down.
- Follow a healthy diet that includes vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Avoid consuming red meat and processed meats and sugary drinks.
Have more questions about Endometrial cancer? Get tele-consultations with the best ob-gyn at home or abroad through Smarter Health’s free service. Tele-consultation is the best solution for accessing healthcare services amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.